When Richard Kovell wanted to gain more clients, he didn’t complain about the economy or the lack of support groups, he started his own.
“The south side is underserved in a lot of ways, it seems like the businesses in this area need to do something,” he said. “The purpose is to exchange info to get leads, that’s why we’re here.”
The South Side Business Alliance meets every third Thursday and provides a way not only to meet new clients but to get to know the other people also operating in the area.
“The south side has been growing and a lot of people still have that impression that it’s the same out here as it was 20 years ago,” said Kovell, who runs his small business Signs and Truck Lettering.
Businesses owners that serve the south side of town see a difference in the attitude of the more local customers.
“People down here are humble when they come to your home,” said Mike Motzkin, owner of Pioneer Plumbing, adding that other areas tend to view service calls more of an inconvenience than a social interaction.
Motzkin met Kovell when he followed some of the plumbing trucks back to the business’ headquarters and then offered to re-do the plumbing company’s signs. Now, Pioneer Plumbing is the de facto meeting space for the South Side Business Alliance.
“I think it will do a lot for us,” Motzkin said. “We’re all finding out who we are.”
The groups don’t have to be large; a dozen business owners attended Korvell’s July meeting.
While the South Side Business Alliance is a regional group, business owners near road projects can get assistance in starting their own support groups from the Regional Transportation Authority’s MainStreet Program, which primarily provides free small business help to businesses affected by construction projects.
During July’s meeting, Kovell invited Veronica Phillips, a personal consultant, to give marketing advice to the members.
“You work with optical? You already have two potential clients,” Phillips said to one of the members.
She shared tips as simple as getting into the habit of having business cards at the ready and the opportunity to meet clients is everywhere.
“People assume that to make money, you have to spend money,” Phillips said, adding that a creative approach can attract new clients and doesn’t have to cost much.
She said of all the large and small organizations she consults with, the one thing they have in common is they all become pessimistic when times get tough and instead
should remain committed to putting on a good face.
“When we’re in down times and give up on our presentation, it shows,” she said.
While he doesn’t have time to organize weekly meetings like larger groups, Kovell wondered why more do-it-yourself organizations who meet monthly aren’t popping up more often.
“It’s free, nobody asks anybody of anything,” he said. “Why wouldn’t you do that?”
South Side Business Alliance
• Meets every third Thursday of the month
Tips for starting your own business group:
• Invite some of your clients, chances are they’ll also want a business group help their own business
• Meeting spaces can be informal
• Attend meetings for other business groups to see how its done
• Communicate regularly with your members and hold meetings consistently
This article was originally published in Inside Tucson News and written by reporter Nicholas Smith.